Tuesday, July 09, 2019

The Old Guy in the Garden

He sits in a sunny alcove in the garden under a canopy of old rose and buckthorn leaves. Birds serenade him in early morning, and rabbits visit him at nightfall. Bumbles and dragonflies buzz around him, spiders knit him into their webs, and sometimes butterflies land on him. There is a steady rain of maple keys, leaf dust and pine needles from the trees over his head.

Our old guy looks as though he is carved from stone, but he is actually made of polyresin, and he weighs only a pound or two. I discovered him in the window of a thrift shop years ago, purchased him for a dollar and carried him home where he now presides over a leafy enclave in the garden from early April until late October. Since I am not supposed to pick up or carry anything weighing more than five pounds, the big garden Buddha will have to stay in the garden shed until I am able to cart him outside myself and park him in his special place. This Hotei is not alone though - a polyresin crane in a fetching shade of blue lives nearby.

Often called the "Laughing Buddha", the original Hotei was a wandering 10th-century Chinese Buddhist monk thought to be an incarnation of Maitreya, the Buddha still to come. In Asian cultures, he represents abundance and contentment, is the protector of children, and for some strange reason, he is also the patron of bartenders. On his back, there is a bottomless bag of food, drink and coins which he shares with those in need, and his name actually means "Cloth Sack" in Chinese. Sometimes he holds a fan which has the power to grant wishes, and he is usually holding a mala (Buddhist rosary). Ours has no fan, but he is holding a mala in one hand, and he seems to be reciting a mantra. One of these days, I would like to find a statue of Kuan Yin for the garden too.

No matter what kind of day I am having, Hotei's grin makes me smile, and that is something beyond price, thrift shop origins or no.


Tabor said...

Smile stimulators are the best.

Barbara Rogers said...

He's adorable. I'm smiling too!

Shell said...

I love Hotei. I use to burn a pink candle with his image on it. He looks perfectly content in your garden.